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tv   Your Business  MSNBC  February 14, 2010 7:30am-8:00am EST

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. hi, everyone. >> i'm rod kurtz offal small business. >> welcome to "your business" where we give you tips and advice for helping your business grow. for those of you dreaming of your own business and afraid to leave the steady paycheck behind look no further than aisha. >> she not only overcame her fear of starting business but her lack of experience in the super competitive industry she was about to get into, the fashion world. >> if you ever dreamed of owning your own business but thought you didn't have the expertise to do what you really wanted to do, look no further than fashion designer aisha saed. >> it's the typical half of smart guys on wall street that have degrees in philosophy. didn't get mbas.
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loves fashion and has a unique viewpoint and has a unique sense. >> i was at a point where i thought i might regret it and thought i'd give it a shot. >> she grew up in pakistan before coming to the united states. she studied finance in wall street and worked on wall street, not the typical path of a fashion designer. >> i didn't go to parsons, didn't have an educational background so why would they hire me? they can hire someone with more experience. >> when she made her career change in 2006, the opportunities for a designer without a degree were slim, so sayeed improvised. she took advantage of some connections in milan to launch her career. >> she said, you know, why don't i try working with italian companies and tell them i'm coming from new york, all that stuff. maybe that will add a little cache to my work that i'm doing for them, and it worked. >> soon she was working with the
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designers of her dreams. >> after many cold calling and running around in italy i was able to work with dolce gabbana. i was able to do eveningwear for laperla and got john galiano in paris to do some and those names helped a lot and from there you could work with whoever you wanted to. >> with new-found confidence and the cache of working in italy she decided to return to new york and start her own label. >> i just said to myself let me see if i can do this because now i know enough about it. why don't you dabble in that. >> made a few mistakes in the beginning and found owning a business to be quite lonely so she turned to her friend and now business mentor mark weufel for a reality check. >> i call mark my charlie, the charlie in "charlie's angels," the man behind the whole operation, gives them their
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task, what they need to do and advises them and so forth so that's what mark has been to me. >> i'm a sounding board. you want to make sure that you're not insane sometimes, and you just want to validate your judgment of what you're doing. >> as she gets more proficient at running her business it's clear she has a knack for understanding the fashion industry, where image is everything. sayeed has quickly mastered the art of making her small business look big. >> you really think ralph lauren's team with a $5.5 billion business has put this together. it's seamless. >> and sayeed works hard at that all important image she presents to the world, has a polished runway, presents elegant runway shows and displays her clothing at high-end charity events, but behind the curtain we find that saeed is really a one-person operation. she works out of a small office in new york city's fashion district doing just about
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everything herself with a little help from a handful of hard working unpaid interns. >> i always wanted to have my own retail store. >> her newest venture as brand emissary is speaking at ivy league universities, telling her story to aspiring entrepreneurs in her dress to impress tour. >> i'm here to see ayasha's collection and hear about her story because i'm interested in a career in fashion. i'm just interested in hearing about someone from an economics and finance background broke into the industry. >> in less than five years saeed has taken her dream of leaving wall street for seventh avenue and made it reality. >> not something that happened overnight, but i wasn't in a rush because, you know, ignorance is a bliss. you're young, okay. like whatever happens happens, and i'll make it work and i just had a determines that this is going to turn into something, like this is not, you know, i'm not wasting my time. >> she's got the talent. she's got the moxie.
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she's smart. she's charming, and she's a killer. she's really a killer, and i think if she plays her cards right, she could be a major brand. >> so for an entrepreneur what's more important, expertise or passion? let's turn to this week's board of directors. jen grey-brucer is a cereal entrepreneur and author and kristi johnson is an author and editor-in-chief of this magazine. you speak to aspiring entrepreneurs all the time and they could have all the passion in the world but if they don't have the expertise should they start a business? >> without passion you could have all the expertise in the world, but if you don't have that drive and ambition you're not going to get anywhere with it and if you have the passion everything else is teachable and creating a team and having a mentor like she did in that
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piece, that's really important. having the team around you that can teach you everything. if you have that drive to do it, you'll accomplish your goals. if you don't and only have the experti expertise, it could be wasted talent, and a lot of people are searching for jobs and maybe starting their own career. the reality is you have transferrable skills always. you might not think that you know anything about the industry, which sometimes is a good idea, but you always have transferrable skills that allow you to learn other things so apply and grow and learn from it as well. >> what do you think? it sounds like this entrepreneur had a lot of past experience that she could bring to the table, and it sounds like she did a really smart thing by talking to a mentor. is that something that you recommend? >> having a mentor is like number one. i can't tell you how many entrepreneurs i talk to, and you can probably to attest to it also, is how they wish that they had a mentor, you know, the things that they could have learned along the way that they had to find out through trial and error, so having a mentor would be probably number one in my opinion. >> and where do you find a mentor? >> you can find a mentor, you
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know, from someone that you look up to, someone that you admire. there are also cultures out there that you can look. you know, anybody website. find a certified coach or mentor to kind of help you along the way >> sometimes it's just somebody you look up to. you don't necessarily have to hire them, but you might read their books or go to their speaking engagements and follow what they do as a model for you. you don't necessarily have to hire them to learn from them. >> some might choose it to go it alone and others might take on business partners, especially if they have complementary skills or maybe some abilities they don't have. a lot of pros and cons, what do you think, about taking on a business partner? >> i always say 100% of $100 is $100 and 20% of $100,000 is a heck of a lot more money. i believe in part energy with people. you obviously have to be wise in your choices, but i feel if you can find somebody that has as totes complement your assets, somebody a real big-picture thinker, you might not be as good as getting the work done so
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if you can partner with someone that can complement your skill sets you can accomplish a lot more. i believe very much in part energy, and i think it allows people to grow at a faster pace and achieve more goals along the way. >> what do you think? >> i think partnership is a good thing but not for everybody. it's an individual -- on an individual basis, so when someone is considering bringing on a partner, they have to really look at their goals and where they are trying to grow their businesses. some businesses start as small businesses but are not looking to grow as a large corporation so that's also something to take into consideration. i would just say kind of look at your options and look at where you really want to be in the next couple of years and then decide if that's something that you really want to take on. >> look at your options. thanks, guys, for joining us. >> thank you. you know, colleen, valentine's day is supposed to be a time to celebrate love, but as some people have found out it can turn sour. >> divorce rates are higher than ever which makes owner a business with your better half especially risky. >> and as j.j. tells us, that was the case at well one-known
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bakery in boston but the business survived the divorce, dealt with the trauma and went on to become extremely successful. >> i was wondering if i would walk in the next day and the doors would be lokd locked. >> it was a near death experience for all of us. >> things became more clear about some of the tensions that the ownership was having. >> watching this well-coordinated 24-hour, seven day a week operation at boston's dancing deer baking company today -- >> want to run the members through? >> sure. numbers this week were pretty good actually. >> you would never guess that only a few years ago the company was brought to the brink of collapse by a divorce between two of the three founders. >> during this whole period of uncertainty, i was actually the only partner that was still here working every day. >> it was hard to know who was going to be charge at the end of the day. >> it wasn't clear that we were going to be able to find a path.
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>> it was definitely breaking up the company. >> trish carter and her husband founded dancing deer bakery in 1994 when they met suzanne lombardi, a creative baker who was look to expand her fledgling business. from the start, the business was a success, but while the company was growing and flourishing, trish and aesa's home life was falling apart. >> i always believe if you work hard enough at something, that you can fix it and i also believed that love conquers all, and now i believe slightly differently. i think some things just can't be fixed, and -- and sometimes you have to move on. >> but moving on isn't that easy when your marriage partner is also your business partner. family business consultants are
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well aware of the consequences when family members can't get along. >> sadly the divorce race is 50%. the survival rate of family businesses is such that one out of three tend to survive throughout a second generation. those are grim odds if you're in a family business. >> fortunately for dancing deer, the employees managed to keep things going while the owners sorted things out between themselves. >> everyone came into work, baking the cookies, packing and selling and getting out the door. >> in the end karter wrote her own recipe for survival, found her own source of financing, bought out her two partners and kept focused on two goals. >> if you ask what's the right thing for the shareholders then can you separate in your brain at a time when everything is very confusing and there are a lot of incomings, the wheat from the shaft, that's one filter and the other answer is what's the
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right thing for my kids. >> today, dancing deer seems to have beaten the odds. >> i'm sure there were many things i could have done better, but i did enough well that we survived. >> why is darryl here? >> he works in the warehouse. >> i invited him. >> darryl, downstairs is the information that you need. >> is this information here? >> i don't need this. >> see you later tonight. >> got plans later. >> okay. bye, honey. >> funny stuff. >> so, as you can see from this scene on nbc's "the office," workplace romances can be trouble. >> and even on-the-job dating is risky it still happens so what's a boss to do? here to help you manage the lovebirds at your business is a workplace expert and five-time best selling author of books like "your kids are your own fault." larry, great to see you. happy valentine's day.
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all decked out in red there. >> i am. look great, don't i? >> good to see you. i've worked in a number of offices in my career and definitely have seen this, i admit, once or twice and dated a co-worker and things can get pretty lovie dovy and real turn off some of your co-workers and staff and can be a problem if your name is on the door. what's an entrepreneur supposed to do here? >> well, you're right. nothing in the world is more sickening to everyone around to have to watch all that lovey dovey stuff that goes on, especially early in a relationship and it's not conducive to getting the work done which is really the focus of anybody managing or running a business. you've got to make sure the work is getting done, so the best thing that you can do is, first of all, communicate to your employees that it's not a good idea. understanding it's still probably going to happen. then clearly communicate the work is why you are all there, and if the work suffers, then maybe somebody's employment is going to have to suffer as well. >> and my take is that this happens more often, colleen, at smaller companies like the ones
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we're talking about here at business because they often don't have formal policies in place. larry, how important is it for a smaller company to have something on the books that says this isn't allowed? >> i think it's important to have something on the books. can i tell you, doesn't matter how much stuff you put on the books or policies you put in writing, you throw a people into a small group, and you're going to have natural attractions occur. that's just the way it is, so, again, the best thing i think any boss can do is clearly communicate that we're here for one reason hand that's to get the work done and that anything that stands in the way of getting the work done is going to be a problem. when you see a relationship start, sit both people down together and say you're going to have to decide, can we keep this out of the work? listen, i'm certainly one that can address this. nearly 30 years ago i was my wife's -- current wife's boss' boss. >> the truth comes out. >> there you go. >> that leads us to another question, larry. you know, business owners are always worried about legal issues. now i'm curious, when you're the
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boss and maybe you've got an attraction to someone in your workplace, what do you think about that? is that anything you should -- i suppose you should proceed with caution there? >> you do have to proceed with caution, and the decision i had to make is what's more most, and i worked for a big company i? worked for at&t at the time, and i went to my boss and we both sat down and explained and i said, listen, as long as we keep it out of workplace, let's try this for a while. very understanding, and we were both very successful of not making it a problem, but i had to make the decision. what was going to be most important to me, this particular job or keeping what i knew was the love of my life. i decided i could get another job. it's going to be find real hard to find somebody to love me to put up with me the rest of my life so i -- >> i can't imagine, that larry, come on. >> i stuck with the relationship. again, i think it all comes down to clearly communicating: we're here about the business and always managing the work. you see, we get so caught up in so many things that can distract
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us. relationships, other people's relationships. if we focus on the work at hand, i think we're better off. >> but on the flip side, larry, i'm wondering and, colleen, i'd ask you this as well, do you think the small companies like we cover, that this can sometimes be a good thing to sort of foster this? people spend a lot of time at work and you do see companies that manage to separate enough that it works out well. >> a lot of companies will have kind of a neutral stance on this, that they won't have a policy for or against dating because maybe it can add some camaraderie to the workplace. >> what do you think, larry? >> what do you think? >> no, i don't think so. >> final question real quick. i want to know what your valentine's day plans are. >> i have a champagne luncheon planned with my wife on valentine's day. >> we wish you a happy one. >> fantastic. >> thank you. >> thanks, larry. >> thanks, larry. >> thank you. and when we come back, we'll answer your business questions, including one about the pros and cons of hiring an independent contractor. >> and we'll show you what it takes to secure your online bank
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accounts. i'm katrina markoff, owner of vosges haut chocolates. we combine chocolate with exotic roots, flowers and spices to create tastes that tell cultural stories. but in today's economy, how do you run a business that's about indulgence, - yet maintain fiscal responsibility? - ( cash register bell dings ) selling prospective clients can require more than truffles with hungarian paprika to seal the deal. so to make every dollar we spend do the most for us, we use our american express open charge card. it's the card that understands what my business needs. we use membership rewards points to visit clients and vendors all over the world. and we rely on open's concierge service to get our clients into the top hotels and restaurants. which makes us look pretty sweet. when you're selling exotic chocolates, having a card you can count on isn't a luxury. it's a necessity. announcer: today how you run your business is anything but typical. so use the card that isn't your typical credit card.
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the american express open charge card. to see what an open charge card can do for your business, visit or call 888-550-open. well, you can never be too careful when handling your finances over the internet. here are five tips for protecting your online bank accounts courtesy of the business blog >> number one, know your bank's policies. make yourself aware of security precautions and the procedures in place if there's a problem. two, make sure your anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall protections are up to date. three, personalize your security controls. some banks allow you to disable certain transactions or require that they must be done in person. four, limit the computers that
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transactions on and try to avoid using a wireless connection. and number five, keep a close personal eye on your accounts. the sooner you spot irregularities the greater chance you have of recovering your funds. >> it is time now to answer some of your business questions. jen and christy are back with us. thanks for sticking around. our first question from the owner of a training and development company. >> when you're getting ready to consider hiring your first couple of employees, is it better to look at hiring people as independent contractors or is it better to hire someone as an actual employee? >> jen, this is a really exciting time for a business owner, that first employee. it can also be very scary. my instinct, a lot of entrepreneurs tell me you should hire slowly and fire quickly. i'm inclined to go with the contractor option. >> i love the contractor option. i do that. it gives you a trial basis for that employee, allows you to have them grow into the company. maybe you don't need them full
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time out of the gate. you have to talk to your accountant about the tax r ram fications so you don't find yourself in trouble. >> another option i favor is having a healthy intern core because you can train people in advance and when the time comes to make that hire you have someone to go to. >> absolutely. having an intern program is going to be important because the interns are not there to work for your company for free, they're there to learn something. having the independent contractor, some employees need to ask the potential employees what it is they want because a lot of people are laid off and they're looking to see what is it that i want to do. it's not necessarily always going to be in the employee's ballpark. >> we're coming out of a recession. there are a lot of people unfortunately unemployed. but it's a great time to look for that first employee. >> you can get amazing talent for a lot less it would have cost you five years ago. >> bargain shopping. >> moving along now. we have an e-mail from a business owner who calls himself
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the durologist. we want to take our business to the next level by franchising. who can i contact about franchising and how can i connect with other entrepreneurs who have gone through the franchising process. >> entrepreneurs are the best source of information. they're willing to give you anything you ask for. a franchise attorney will be the best option for him. sometimes franchisees when they're looking to start a franchise, is that they really have to consider if they can sell franchise. they're used to working in their business on a day-to-day basis and now you have to stop what you're doing to build the franchise component of your company. >> i think that's a great point. with franchising some have told me it's a great way to grow with other people's money. you have to be able to replicate that model. >> you have to create an infrastructure that's dupe pliable for other people to do easily and give people back their investment pretty quickly. that's why people go into the franchise business because they want to limit their risk and they don't want to have to come
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up with the infrastructure on their own. >> yeah. it's sort of a business in a box, at least the good ones are. next up, we have a question from the owner of a wedding supply company. >> what is the easiest way to create strategic partnerships with businesses off-line to drive business to my on-line boutique? >> this is something i'm hearing more and more about, even entrepreneurs in new york, they set up in retail, sort of these pop-up stores where they have a small footprint at a department store and raises awareness and customers see it and then they go to the website to buy directly. is this a growing trend? >> i believe it is. the pop-up theory is working and the strategic alliances is something we're really needing to evolve into. it's really joining forces, joining resources, it's something that i believe is really the wave of the future for entrepreneurs to do joint ventures and tra tegic partnerships because it allows you to unite forces and really come together as a stronger product. >> it eliminates the need for an
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entrepreneur to set up their own store if they can latch on to someone else? >> absolutely. being an entrepreneur you have so much overhead and operational expenses. if you can partner with someone else go for it. >> do you think there's risks if you're not fully set up as an on-line retailer and not ready to meet the demand if you get into a big name store, how do you know if the time is right? >> you want to be ready. on-line presence should be the first thing you're doing. it's so low in overhead compared to having the risk of inventory and going into a storefront space. you want to make sure that you're ready in that component first and foremost and you want to make sure that if you are providing products, that your inventory is going to supply that demand. >> i've said it a number of times on the show that really your website is the store front of the 21st century. focus on that first. our last question finally we have one from joe, asking, what is the best way to manage your business telemarketing leads? christy, i'm a little torn on this one as a consumer i hate telemarketers but from a business standpoint they can be
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an effective way of bringing in new leads. >> telemarketing have worked for centuries and that's why people do it. >> even before the phone. >> absolutely. >> what business owners really need to focus on is having a software, you know, crm where they can put the information in and track it, but more importantly than tracking and forecasting the customers you're calling on, the customers calling in, having a system you can follow up on and follow through. >> jen, i would say that speaks to sort of a broder point a lot of entrepreneurs face, they have to have a way to track their leads, the effectiveness of going to a tlads show or conference like that, how important is it in your view if you're getting out and reefk out to monitor how effective this is? >> follow through from the entrepreneurs is the most important component and that's where people drop the ball. you don't follow through, it's really -- you've wasted your time and money. the thing about marketing that's so hard, it is hard to really track exactly what you're getting out from it, but i
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think, you know, telemarketing is really twitter now too. it's facebook. it's using the social media mediums to allow them to get their name out there and create buzz. we never know where the buzz is going to lead. >> the technology changes but you have to have a way to track it. great advice as always. if you have a question for our panel go to the website, there you can hit the ask the show link and submit a question for our panel. again, you can find us on the web at you can also send us an e-mail with your questions or comments. that address, your business at . >> and now that we've heard from our experts let's get some survival tips from small business owners just like you. >> this is one of the hottest things there is to do. you're going to work your fingers to the bone, you're going to work your eight-hour day plus another four on-site grashgs to go home, be on the computer, you're going to be doing the billing you're going to be doing the psych cling and
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you're going to be trying to acquire investors. it's a lot of work. be prepared. >> i think the secret to my success is to have thick skin. you need to take criticism but also take it with a grain of salt. not everyone has the best suggestions to your business. stick to your guts. >> when you're in your worst moment, know that there's something positive that can come out of it. you just have to utilize your resources and like les brown once said, jump off the cliff and grow your wings on wait down. -- the way down. >> your company's home page might look great on a computer screen. what about on a smog alert phar. this provides mobile site building services for businesses. using templates on the site you can quickly create your most important pages. they will track where your web traffic is coming from. service plans vary depending on your business's needs. to learn more about today's show just click on our website, it's
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your biz you'll find all of today's segments and web exclusive content with more information to help you grow your business. >> coming up next week, we've got an olympic skier who ignores the skeptics and races straight into the competitive fragrance business. >> i love when people tell me things like that, like i can't be a chemical engineer and compete in the olympics or my perfume is never going to grow or this is never going to be successful. i'm a competitor and i like to win. >> we'll show you how this go-getter is going for the gold in vancouver and at the perfume counter. >> until then i'm colleen. >> and i'm rob. we make your business our business. as small businesses are busy reinventing the econom small business owners have a lot of questions.
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can paperless billing get me paid faster? how can i keep my best employees? how can i bring down my insurance costs? and while at american express open we may not have all the answers, we know who does. other owners. that's why we're helping business owners connect. together, we're building a community for them to talk, share and help each other. a place called where owners can swap ideas and ask questions. will tweeting get me more customers? how can i make my business green? and one question seems especially popular. how can i get paid faster? how can i get paid faster? i was about to ask you the same thing. and they're inspiring ideas like acceptpay. a new tool from open that lets owners invoice digitally and helps them get paid faster. ask a question. find an answer. join the conversation at
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it is going to be -- korea wipes out. unbelievable. apolo won silver and j.r. celski won bronze! >> collision course. one slip and a dramatic speed skating finish leads the u.s. to two medals, a record for apolo ohno as well. gold in them hills. american women grab two medals in a mogul event. the weather in whistler is wreaking havoc. the latest in a live report. swept away, dozens of surf spectators on the california coast, look at that, wiped out by raging waves and several seriously injured. but could it have been prevented? good morning, everyone. i'm alex witt. welcome to "msnbc sunday." to your olympic headlines. apolo ohno skates into history tying bonnie blair as the most decorated u.s. winter olympian taking a medal in the short track 1500 meter final. we're going to show you videos of the


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